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Henry Judd

World Politics

[Federal Republic of Germany]

(29 August 1949)


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 35, 29 August 1949, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


A new national state has been born – the Federal Republic of Western Germany.

True, it is not yet a fully independent, autonomous national entity; true, it is still occupied by foreign forces and their administrators; true, one third of the country is cut off and isolated from the other two-thirds. But, nonetheless, nothing can negate the fact that the German people are marching steadily toward the national reunification, liberation and freeing of their entire land from the forces of occupation.

Within the framework of the so-called Bonn Constitution – a document never submitted to popular approval and drawn up by hand-picked delegates who arbitrarily left a whole series of prerogatives to the occupation authorities – a general election has been held throughout Western Germany. Contrary to predictions before the elections, 80 per cent of those eligible voted and thereby indicated that they wanted their representatives to assume responsibility – even the limited and qualified responsibility – placed upon them under the Bonn Constitution. Even the Bonn Constitution was considered a partial step on the road to ending the totally unpopular occupation of the country.
 

Stalinism Driven Back

As is well known, every single party in the Western zones campaigned on an anti-Allied, end-the-occupation program, expressed in one or another way. Not a single party or its spokesmen had a kind word to say for the occupation! In this sense, the election results may be considered a solid 100 per cent vote, on the part of the 24 million Germans who participated, against the continued occupation of their country.

Stalinism, and the threat of the Russians have, thanks to the heroic efforts of the Berlin people, been temporarily crushed and driven back. Those in Western Germany who were inclined, to tolerate the occupation as a ”necessary evil” to be used against the Russians no longer feel this way and have taken this first opportunity to express their attitude toward their “own” occupation forces. Their verdict is a unanimous condemnation, and the expression of a desire to end all and any form or shape of occupation as soon as possible.

It should be understood, of course, that the Allies themselves have recognized that the old form of occupation of last year – the post-war occupation based upon military might, troops, decrees by military government officials, etc. – is now a thing of the past. An effort is under way to modify the occupation drastically, give it it a more presentable shape and form by forming a bloc between the Allied forces and the most conservative forces in Germany itself. This will undoubtedly be the major problem of the future.

There are other broad meanings to be drawn from the election results. First and foremost, the German people stated their desire to form a new national state and served notice they will not be satisfied with the truncated, semi-independent kind of state the Allies have permitted them to have. They are marching on the road to a new political life and a new unification.

Secondly, the campaign itself indicated the true “esteem” in which the Allies are held. Thirdly – and perhaps most significant of all – Stalinism was administered its most severe and thorough trouncing since the end of the war. The German Stalinist party was literally swamped in an avalanche of anti-Stalinist and anti-Russian votes and ended up with not even six per cent of the total ballots cast! Stalinism, polling a bare 1,360,000 popular vote, was liquidated in the workers’ Ruhr areas and not even one Stalinist won a popular election! Nowhere else in Europe has such a thorough thrashing been administered to this reactionary force.
 

Workers Support Social-Democrats

In examining the actual election statistics, it would be wrong to draw hasty conclusions as to their significance. Bigger issues than party programs and party policies were at stake, together with the fact that none of the parties, without exception commands popular respect or esteem. The American press is attempting to wrest some comfort from this anti-occupation election by pointing to the victory of the conservative parties with which – so they hope – it will be comparatively easy to work. Yet even this victory was not so great as may be thought, even though it must definitely be recognized that rightist and even reactionary parties won a popular majority.

In the final election returns, the Christian-Democratic Party received a plurality vote of 7,357,000, while their close allies with whom they will form a coalition government (the Free Democrats) got almost three million votes. The German Social-Democratic Party received a popular vote of seven million (30 per cent of the total), which is a disappointment, even though if was an almost solid working-class vote. It had been hoped that this party would receive the largest popular vote. Nevertheless, the fact is indicated that great masses support the Social-Democratic Party and that the German labor movement has taken great forward stops in the difficult job of reorganizing itself.

One of the distinctly unfavorable aspects of the election is the large popular vote received by clear-cut reactionary, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and provincial organizations such as the Bavarian Party, the German Party, etc. Together, these revivals of Nazism and all that is reactionary in the German body politic received the surprisingly high total of almost 2½ million votes, or over 10 per cent of the total. The fact remains that large and powerful segments of the German population, centered in Bavaria, retain their most vicious Hitlerite beliefs and express them on every possible occasion. This is but another indication of the failure of the occupation.
 

People Will Demand Independence

Now with the elections over and the formation of the new state scheduled for September, a new phase in Germany’s history will begin. The new government will be conservative, if not reactionary, and is very subject to church pressure on many fronts. The Allies hope for peaceful collaboration with it, and America has promised an ever greater flow of Marshall aid. It is clear that American imperialism looks for the even more rapid revival of this new German state as its real bulwark against Russian imperialism.

But the German Christian-Democrats will demand a price for falling in with this bloc conception of the occupation. They will demand increasing autonomy and independence, particularly in economic, trading and commercial fields. And within Germany itself there is the revived voice of the German working class, pressing for its just place in the reconstruction of Germany and demanding fulfillment of its many economic and social demands.

This new German state now in process of birth will certainly be a lively and energetic arena for political life. In this respect, the election and its results continue that development which has been increasingly apparent over the past year: the transference to Germany of the center of political and social life formerly centered in France.


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